When I was 14 my mom went on a diet. She talked about how “fat” she was at 150 pounds. She ate brown bread, brown rice and put soy sauce on her salad while we ate Shepard’s Pie. She did Jane Fonda workouts in the living room. She complained about the size of her butt and the size of her thighs. She lost 20 pounds and she felt better. Before this time in my life, I never really thought about what I ate. I never thought about how much I weighed. I was active and ate like a normal kid. Gained some weight after quitting gymnastics but never thought twice about it. Until my mom went on her diet.
Fast forward 20 years.
I am around the same age my mother was when she started dieting.
My husband and I eat healthy, exercise in our living room and talk about our weight loss. My kids are much younger but W has started asking me if the food he is eating is “healthy”. I bring the kids to the gym six times a week so I can workout. I emphasize being healthy and strong.
I have lived with a negative body image since I was a teenager. When I started weighing myself in high school I was 150 pounds.The same weight as my mother when she went on her diet. I thought I had a big butt and big thighs. I spent my whole adult life trying to be skinnier, but masking it as trying to be “more fit”. Whether depriving myself or indulging, I couldn’t seem to look at myself in the mirror and like what I saw. It really didn’t matter how fit I was.
Don’t get me wrong. My mother was amazing. She was a strong fit woman and was a great example for us four girls. She never meant any harm. She later went on to become an amazing fitness instructor and an inspiration to me and to many others. But I can’t help but wonder how some of her words and actions affected me at a time when I was very easily influenced. I can’t help to think that her negative body image was passed on to me just as her strong legs and strong arms were.
As hard as we try to talk about being healthy and strong, it really does come come down to weight and body image. Our society is obsessed with it. We can’t shelter our children from this reality but as parents we are their number one role models. We need to live the way we want our children to live.
I hope that with this new revelation I can work on my negative body image and start learning to love myself. I can teach my children to love themselves no matter what shape or size they are. Teaching them to be healthy and active is the easy part.